Audience

Audiences are active and their own individuality contributes to the interpretation or reading of a given text. There are 6 areas of audience to consider:

  • Positioning

Media texts position audience to think and feel in a particular way. They are positioned through codes including audio, visual, mode of address, language etc.

Stuart Hall identifies 3 responses to a media text – Preferred, Negotiated and Oppositional (also called Reception Theory)

  • Different Audience Responses

There are factors as to why audience members respond differently to texts: Gender, age, ethnicity, cultural experience, cultural competence and situated culture.

  • Theory

Hypodermic Needle Theory: (1930s) assumes audience to be passive.

Uses and Gratifications Theory: assumes audience to be active and assumes audience use media texts for 4 reasons – Personal Identity, Information/Education, Entertainment/Escapism and Social Interaction

Pick and Mix Theory: audience pick certain things from a text and ignore others

Two-Step Flow Theory: developed by Paul Lazersfield. Personal interpretation of text is based on interpretation of Opinion Leaders; parents, friends, celebrities and politicians

  • Construction

A creator of a media text keeps an idea of an audience in mind whilst creating the text

  • Categorization

There are 2 ways to group or profile an audience; Demographics and Psychographics

Demographics: Categorizes audience into A-E groups where A has a high disposable income and influence and E is on the other side of the spectrum. Factors that determine a profile include occupation, class, income, education etc.

Psychographics: categorizes into 5 main psychological groups – Mainstreamers, Aspirers, Explorers, Succeeders, Reformers. Factors that determine these groups are based on Values, Attitudes and Lifestyle (VALs) namely security, control, status, individuality, freedom survival and escape.

  • Targeting

Every media text targets and appeals to a specific audience. Can be a niche, narrow or broad audience. The audience are targeted through the use of codes.

 

 

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Theory Recap

REPRESENTATION

  • Reconstructed presentation of something that already exists

STEREOTYPE

  • Reported presentations through mass media, repetition establishes these stereotypes as accepted norm

GLOBALISATION

  • Promotion of unified ideas/ideals across the world (western ideals)

NARRATIVE

  • The way the story is told through narrative devices

PATRIARCHY

  • Male dominated (society) ideology, not gender specific

NARRATIVE STRUCTURE

  • Sequence of events through which the story is told

TODOVOV 3-ACT STRUCTURE

  • Equilibrium  —– Disequilibrium —– New resolved equilibrium

LBOV 5-ACT STRUCTURE

  • Abstract
  • Orientation
  • Complication
  • Resolution
  • Evaluation

LINEAR

  • Chronological telling of story

PROPP

  • Vladmir Propp identified many character types but found  7 in every classic folktale:
  1. Villain
  2. Princess, damsel in distress; reward for hero
  3. King/dispatcher
  4. Sidekick, helper
  5. False hero
  6. Donar

FEMINISM

  • Movement/ideology concerned with gender inequality

MARXISM

  • Concerned with capitalism and the negative impact on distribution of wealth

BOURGEIOS

  • Ruling class ideology where there is promotion of patriarchy and capitalism

HEGEMONY

  • The concept developed by political theorist Antonio Gramsci to describe how governments solicit the consent of their people to be governed. This is done largely by persuading them that their best interests are served by the social organisation at the time – consent of the people to abide by the law and be ruled is crucial.
  • Consent has to be won – the media play considerable part in this process
  • The entertainment, excitement and other diversions they offer are key to maintaining the complacency of the general populus

Noam Chomsky suggests a much more manipulative propaganda role, “They actively conspire to promote particular values and foster interest in certain kinds of activity (e.g. sport) and of course to focus consumer desires on certain types of products. These are largely distractions from more important concerns about things that actually matter in people’s lives such as how their society is being organised and governed.”

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Media

Patriarchy – male dominated society

Patriarchal society – where the dominant ideas/ideals are received in patriarchy and male dominance

Stereotypes are constructed representations. Media creations that are culturally specific (socialization)

Mass media has changed in the last 15 years through the internet and the idea of a global village

GLOBALISATION – promotion of unified ideas and ideals across the world. It is a distinction of individual cultures. Power and information and knowledge are all linked and are controlled by the west

IDEOLOGY – an organised system of beliefs and ideas that form basis on which a particular society operates

Underpinning much of the output op the media, various powerfull vested interests operate to ensure particular representations of the world are manifested

In the media ideology is constructed. Although it often appears natural in fact it is created

The media serve the interests of state and corporate power which are closely interlinked forming their analysis in a manner superlative of established privilege and limiting debate accordingly.

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Guidlines for Close Analysis

When asked to analyse a sequence closely start by identyfyingg the purposes of the extract, then look how the filmmakers have used film language to achieve them. Don’t just decribe what you see and hear. You need analyse and evaluate – to explain why these techniques have been used and their likely effect on the audience

Briefly introduce the extract: what do you thinl its purposes are?

  • What events does it present?
  • Does it portray particular aspects of any characters?
  • Are important aspects of the locations represented?
  • Does it develop any relationships between characters?
  • Does it aim to create an emotional response in the spectator, such as sadness, exitement or laughter?

Discuss important aspects of the mise en scene: What messages do these elements communicate to the viewer:

  • What sort of location/s is/are represented?
  • If interirs are used, how are they made realistic through details of set decoration?
  • If exteriors are used, what kind of landscape is presented, and if there any buildings?
  • Has casting been used to help construct characters?
  • How does costume contribute to the viewers understanding and enjoyment of the sequence?
  • What important props appear in the sequence? How do they create meanings for the viewer?

Discuss the cinematography:

  • Are there any unusual shots, or is the sequence shot conventionally?
  • Which characters receive most close-ups?
  • Are there close ups on props or other elements of mise en scene?
  • When and why are longs shots used?
  • Are objects or characters presented using high or low angle shots at any points in the sequence?
  • Is kinetic camerawork used (tilts, pans, tracks, dollies and cranes)?
  • Is handheld camerawork used?
  • Is energy created through camerawork and/or editing?
  • Are lighting and colour used to create mood and/or interest?
  • Do you notice anything interesting in the framing and/or composition of any shots?

Discuss the editing: How does it create rhythm and meaning?

  • Does this sequence mostly use traditional continuity editing?
  • Are there any distinctive and/or unusual edits, such as jump cuts?
  • Has film been slowed down or sped up at any point?
  • Did you notice the use of any common techniques, such as establishing shots at the start, master angle, eye line match or shot-reversing-shot?
  • Does the editor use any dissolves, wipes or other transition effects?
  • Are there more cuts in some parts of the sequence than others?
  • Is there cross-cutting between two locations?

Discuss the use of sound?

  • What are the main sources of sound in the sequence?
  • Diegetic
  • Non -diegetic
  • Synchronous
  • Asynchronous
  • Is there music? If so, what does it add to the sequence?
  • Are particular diegetic sound effects used to enhance the experience of the audience?
  • Are any sounds exaggerated or processed in any way?
  • Are any sounds synchronised with edits or action?
  • What does dialogue add to the sequence?

Discuss any special effects?

  • Have pyrotechnics been used?
  • Have stunt artists been used?
  • Has chroma key been used?
  • Have post-production special effects, such as CGI, been used?
  • Have captions or other superimposed images been added?
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Looking At Narrative

Narrative, in film as in fiction is “how the story is told”

Lbov, a Russian psychologist and linguist developed a theory that narrative automatically fell into a 5-stage pattern. As he listened to people tell stories about their life and experiences, he observed this pattern of

  1. Abstract – things aren’t known
  2. Orientation – character/role shown
  3. Complication – disequilibrium
  4. Resolution – things resolved
  5. Evaluation – hindsight/moral of story

If we look at most plots we can see this pattern emerging. If it doesn’t emerge, we feel that the plot was “odd” in some way, and if there is no proper ending or resolution we feel cheated. An example of this is the ending of “The Fellowship of the Ring”, where Frodo and Sam go off in one direction and the rest of the party in the other and we have to wait a year to see the rest of it.

Film is more complex than oral narrative, because of all the cultural , visual and constructional aspects which influence our watching. We need to recognise that complex codes are operating, and that we are de-coding them without being aware of this.

Socialization and culturally specific references

CODES ARE SYSTEMS OF SIGNS GOVERNED BY RULES AGREED BETWEEN MEMBERS OF A CULTURE (GENERAL CONSENSUS)

  • They consist of signs (material objects – or signifiers (denotations) – which refer to something – the signified or the referent (connotations)) governed by rules agreed either explicitly or implicitly between members of a cultural group
  • Roland Barthes identified five more complex narrative codes that film students and writers to analyse narrative construction
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The Five Narrative Codes

ACTION CODE

  • Models of actions that help viewers to place details in plot sequences and determine how much of an action need be shown
  • For example; what is happening? An arrival, a fight, falling in love, a journey, a storm, a meeting etc

ENIGMATIC CODE – major and minor enigmas (both questions)

  • It structures the plot by setting a series of minor and major questions which keeps the viewers interest in the plot and governs the sense of mystery and suspense.
  • There may be false leads and delays to answering the major enigmas, though the ending usually provides closure and answers at least some of the questions

SEMIC CODE – sound and visual semes (mise-en-scene)

  • A seme is a unit of meaning or a sign (hence the term semiology – the study of signs and their meanings)
  • They provide cultural stereotypes which allow us to adjectivally describe characters or settings – through lighting, music, sound effects, mise-en-scene etc
  • For example; frightened, resolute, windy, deserted

REFERENTIAL CODE

  • References to the knowledge of the time
  • For example; science, medicine, history, literature, art, mass media, architecture, geography, social conventions, common sense, to other texts (ie intersexuality)

SYMBOLIC CODE

  • This provides that major structuring themes in the text and can often be expressed in binary oppositions (eg; in the Western; desert v garden, savagery v civilisation, domestic v independent) or in psychoanalytical terms
  • Oppositions can often be expresses across actions, characters, settings, style etc
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Essay Structure

Develop it/explain – support your point by giving an example from the text

Answer the question by refering to words from the question

Use media language – key terms to explain the point

When discussing stereotypes consider

  • reinforce/support
  • challenge
  • construct
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Narrative

NARRATION – Voiceover, a narrative device

Plot – the storyline that unfolds through narrative device

Narrative – the way the story is told through various devices such as:

  • setting/location
  • script
  • characters
  • camera angles/shots/movement
  • props
  • mis en scene
  • costume
  • lighting/sound

NARRATIVE STRUCTURE – the sequence of events that let the narrative unfold

Todovov (via Aristotle) said stories are told through a 3 act structure

BEGINNING ———- MIDDLE ———— END

EQUILIBRIUM —– DISRUPTION —– RETURN TO EQUILIBRIUM

Most mainstream stories are told through a linear structure. Non linear structures include:

  • flashbacks/flashforwards
  • starts at the end
  • starts in the middle

INTERTEXTUALITY – when one text refers to another e.g. Lady Gaga’s Telephone video – cafe dance they wear SGT Peppers Lonely Hearts jacket (The Beatles), Pussy Wagon (Kill Bill)

BINARY OPPOSITION – when one signifies/symbol/thing is juxtaposed against another symbol to highlight/create meaning through opposites

In Lord of the Rings: Heroes live in open spaces surrounded by green fields and nature – symbolises freedom, nature, happiness, peace, tranquility, goodness

VS. Villains live next to a volcano in a blackened empty desert – death, decay, hellish

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British Dramas Analysis

Eastenders

Age

BBC – aims to appeal to the mass audience

Youth

  • Young pregnancies
  • Juvi detentions
  • Prostitution
  • Peer pressure
  • Poverty
  • Sexuality
  • Tensions with parents/family

Editing gives ample screen time to the characters identification with them. Presented as problematic and adhere to the stereotypes. They assume their audience will recognise and relate to these characters stereotypes and story lines. Dramas are dramatic interpretations of real life.

Camera shots – mid shots, two shots, and short reverse – show realism and empathy

Lighting – naturalistic not dramatic

Old

  • Illness
  • Superstition/religion
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Wise, bearing the burden
  • Sexual relationships
  • Source of light humour

Camera shots – spent a fair amount time to take in these characters emotions, this reflects their wisdom, they are often involved in every storyline

Middle aged

  • Parents
  • Active ones
  • Develop and motivate narrative

Misfits

Channel 4 – youth and minority broadcaster

Super powers for juvenile criminals

Curtis whose superpower is gender switching – leader, fixer of problems, confident

Kelly – rocket scientist, attractive, battle-axe, matriarch

Alesha – psychic, fortune-teller, sex symbol

Curtis as a woman is drugged and the coach tries to take advantage of her

Camera shots – high angle shots to represent power

The edits/cuts are short and varied. This builds suspense and creates tension. This is Important for audience interactions. This is likely to evoke empathy as audience are given a subjective view.

Downton Abbey

Gender

Period drama

ITV

Girls/females – purpose in life is to look pretty and breed heirs

Told when to speak and apologies make to the men when they give opinions

Women are pre occupied with marriage

Men/boys – purpose was to “provide” and the reward or success is “winning a wife”

Masculinity and all its attributes such as strength, stoicism, and emotional detachment are seen as admirable by the characters but also by the audience

Modern audiences continue to relate to these supposedly “archaic” values because subconsciously these values are very much in our society but in different forms/versions

Subconsciously underlying our society

Desperate Scousewives

Social class

Channel 4 – expectations of entertainment that is daring and slightly less mainstream

Liverpool setting – strong socialist background, aggressive accent, uneducated

Rich working class – designer labels, luxury brands, consumerism, appearance focused, leisure time in spas, served in spas, served in bar, lack of education, dizzy, giggly

Hollyoaks

Appeals to young audience/teens because majority of characters reflect the age of the audience

Issues covered are largely unique/predominant in youth culture e.g. eating disorders, teen pregnancy, violence, rape, and homelessness

Offers helpline – suggests/assumes there will be a high degree of identification with represented issues or characters

Cultural diversity/ethnicity

Young Afro – Caribbean male portrayal as the joker/fool in the group

He is a sympathetic character but not to identify with or aspire to

Diary of a Secret Call Girl

Aimed at a late twenties and up audience

Set in affluent London – labels/modern
Absence of ethnic character suggest a correlation between affluence, success and whiteness

Bambi – mixed race, bad relationships, subjected to domestic abuse

Association of violence with ethnicity – drinking stereotype

Gender and sexuality – masculinity is generally associated as the ownership of wealth. Rewarded for success with sex.

Women objects of sexual reward

Femininity is portrayed as secondary with sole value placed on ability sexually satisfy men

Belle is generally a positive character – intelligent, kind, funny

Empowered?

Benidorm

Social class

Exploring the working class stereotype on a tourist destination

Council-estate types – loud, swearing in front of children, funny/witty, and battle-axe matriarch, complaining men: source of foolish problem, scroungers

Middle-class types –posh accent, weak because had a sheltered life, m no common sense, humour originated because there out of comfort zone, modest clothing,

Supports established societal values and class

Eastenders

Gender and sexuality

BBC audience who are traditionalists and value family

Male – macho, businessmen, deviant, criminal, aggression

Attractive to woman “the bad boys”

Christian – macho, kind, not camp – character that most heterosexual men would otherwise identify with

His homosexuality is his burden. Portrayed as an unhealthy pursuit

Woman – matriarchs or victims

Irrespective of success, women are often portrayed as inferior to men

Purpose – deals with real life issues in a dramatic way

Offers help and guidance to public with similar problems

Status Quo Definition

The existing state or condition

The existing state of affairs

The existing order of things – present customs, practices and power relations

Status quo is firmly maintained with these representations with little challenge to established viewsBritish

SUBJECTIVE POV – when the audience members are positionedas subject’s characters in the scene or action. They are invited (through camera shots/angles/movements) to either “see” things from a characters perspective or to be involved with the action as an extra character. This often has a visceral effect on the audience has a physical effect on them. O.T.S (over the shoulder shot) is a subjective shot. Low angle/high angle shots can be subjective provided they are supposed to be.

There will at times be incidents where we are switching between victim/villain in times of subjective POV.

OBJECTIVE – are ones that don’t invite the audience “into” the scene. E.S W.S. L.S. all tend to be objective/unbiased

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Narrative

NARRATION – Voiceover, a narrative device

PLOT – The storyline that unfolds through narrative device

NARRATIVE – The way the story

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